Trail Running: How to Hit Your Stride on Michigan Trails

Michigan’s landscape offers the perfect setting for trail running. Thinking of getting out and hitting the Michigan trails? Todd Scott, avid runner and Detroit Greenways Coordinator of the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance fills us in on what you need to know.

Pine trees surrounding a trail in the woods
Hartwick Pines State Park | Photo Courtesy of Instagram Fan hannahs_photo_page

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Trail running is one of the fastest-growing participation sports in America – and for plenty of good reasons. It provides a more varied, more scenic, and less stressful option for runners of all abilities. Plus, trails have fewer traffic lights to stop at.

Trail Variety

Michigan boasts numerous trails, and has more than 2,700 miles of rail-trails for plenty of options. Michigan rail-trails are great for steady, relaxed, out-and-back running. They usually have a smoother surface (asphalt or crushed stone), so unlike hiking trails and mountain bike trails, you won’t have to worry about rocks, roots, and other trip hazards. In addition, many rail-trails offer amenities like water and restrooms.
There is also the popular, and longest designated state trail in the nation, the Iron Belle Trail. This Shore-to-Shore trail spans more than 220 miles, connecting Lake Huron and Lake Michigan.

Trail Gear

Off-road trail shoes typically provide more foot and toe protection, more tread and are more stable. However, those features come with the price of added weight. They are unnecessary on Michigan rail-trails unless you’re going on longer trail runs over rougher terrain, you can probably get by on your typical running shoes.

Winter Trail Running

Winter trail running is a blast. The woods and hills can help block the winter winds to keep you warmer. Running in light snow or packed snow can make your run more challenging but the winter scenery usually makes it worthwhile. When the snow gets too deep, you always can break out the snowshoes.
One final reminder: Please be a courteous trail user by sharing the trail (and keeping the iPod volume down). Don’t be shy about flashing a smile or a “hello” to others enjoying the outdoors on Pure Michigan Trails.
About the Author: Todd Scott is the Detroit Greenways Coordinator for the Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance. He’s also a crazy ultra-runner and has completed five Leadville Trail 100 runs.